Connect with us

Coronavirus Thailand

6 million unemployed in tourism alone – a stark outlook for Thailand’s tourist industry



More accurate predictions are starting to emerge as the full impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak in Thailand start to become clearer, and we still don’t have the shops open yet.

Reports from the UN’s International Labour Organisation, in collaboration with the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, have already made stark predictions about the problems that lay ahead for the Thai government, and the people working in the immediate and peripheral parts of the tourism industry.

Up to 6 million people are expected to lose their jobs in the tourism sector alone as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, that’s in a country with a total population around 66 million. Tourism is a critical industry for the Thai economy that accounts for between 15-18% of the country’s GDP in direct income, and up to 21% when you include all the other businesses that rely on the flow of tourists.

Thailand’s tourism sector has overcome many past shocks – natural disasters, coups, a reputation for political instability, recessions and long-running protests. That Thailand survived these interruptions, then continued to thrive, gave Thailand’s tourism industry the nickname “Teflon Thailand”.

Locations like Phuket and Pattaya, which are almost entirely tourist-dollar driven, will be particularly hard hit without any other local industries to keep the economic wheels turning.

The Covid-19 crisis has come out of nowhere and completely short-circuited the demand and supply parts of the entire tourism economy.

“The magnitude of the current socio-economic shocks that come from the health and economic effects tied to the current Covid-19 pandemic are, however, unprecedented in recent history.”

At the core of the report, and Thailand’s tourism woes going forward, is the total collapse of inbound tourism. International tourist arrivals in January and February dropped to 5.9 million, compared with 7.3 million in the same months last year. The ban on international flights didn’t start until April 4.

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce now estimates that up to 6 million people employed in the tourism sector will end up unemployed, if Thailand lost about 30 million tourists – that’s the current projection.

“The number of unemployed people could even rise to 10 million if the pandemic does not subside by the end of June.”

Tourism makes up 21.6% of Thailand’s GDP, according to the report, compared to Cambodia’s 6.7% and Vietnam’s 6.9%.

The report also warns that the tourism sector would not survive the pandemic’s repercussions without assistance from the government.

Over the past decade the tourist hotspots have been playing catch up to provide infrastructure and rooms to cater for the continual surge of more and more international tourists. The rise in tourist numbers has doubled in a decade, and that was more than double when compared to the decade before that.

But now half-completed hotels and condos are likely to remain unfinished and the rest of the country’s accommodation offerings will be battling for slim pickings for at least the rest of this year and probably well into 2021.

The country’s MICE industry (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions), already battling with the high Thai baht and uncompetitive meetings and convention landscape, will likely be almost non-existent well into next year. On a side note, the meetings industry worldwide has suddenly found a workable online solution that will probably remain a new normal in the industry and allow people to meet and compare professional notes without the bothersome flights, hotel rooms and drinks bills.

In response, the Thai government is already offering up to 100 billion baht in soft loans for tourism operators, who can also request for debt suspensions and interest rate reductions. But those debts will need to be paid off at some stage, a tough ask when the income opportunities are going to be so limited in the short to medium term.

There is no doubt going to be a huge pent up demand to travel again when borders start to open up around the world but governments will be tentative to allow fresh faces through their gates after the travel and tourism industry worldwide basically provided the Covid-19 virus with the opportunity to spread as quickly as it did.

Will insurance companies provide insurance for passengers to travel again? If the Thai government does allow a return of tourists, will then be required to go into a quarantine period? Will people have the discretionary income to travel when the world is mired in an economic recession? Will the world’s hard-hit aviation industry be able to recover quickly and re-open up routes? And how much will those airline tickets be, particularly if there remains health requirements for social distancing on planes?

So many questions lay ahead for an industry that provides 20% of the country’s earnings.

SOURCES: Khaosod English | UN International Labour Organisation


Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Kanchanaburi22 mins ago

Kanchanaburi school director found dead in canal

Pattaya2 hours ago

Small children in Pattaya learn to get help when locked in hot cars

Chiang Mai2 hours ago

Heavy rains collapse part of Chiang Mai’s ancient city wall

Sponsored2 days ago

From regulation to cannabis delivery, here’s what you need to know about cannabis in Thailand

Events3 hours ago

6-hour whiskey drinking contest draws criticism

Pattaya4 hours ago

Pattaya official urges mayor to expand legal nightlife zone

Thailand4 hours ago

Things you can do in Thailand during the rainy season

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Indonesia4 hours ago

Earthquake in Indonesia felt throughout southern Thailand

Patong5 hours ago

Foreign women rescued from rip current in Patong

Thailand21 hours ago

Woman smashes up her 1.5 million baht car over feud with Ford Thailand

Bangkok22 hours ago

1.8 billion baht in donations at the Erawan shrine in 2022

Phuket23 hours ago

Phuket welcomes 4 million tourists in 8 months

Tourism24 hours ago

Carnival Magic theme park opens in Phuket to fanfare

Video1 day ago

Ask the Thais | Stereotypes, Racial Profiling, and Discrimination

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

Thailand watching BQ.1.1 variant as Covid rules ease

Thailand1 day ago

Military conscription in Russia could benefit Thailand’s economy

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11